First of all, FestPac is short for the Festival of Pacific Arts. It’s an event that has occurred every four years since 1972 with the purpose of gathering various island nations to showcase their cultures in several ways (dancing, carving, storytelling, etc.). FestPac is meant to encourage the learning of each island's respective culture to ensure that the cultures do not die out. It's meant to bring an appreciation of one's roots and show that our little Pacific Islands have a lot of history. This year, FestPac 2016 had Guam hosting the event. In total, there were 27 delegations that partook in the festivities. I think that we did a fairly good job at accommodating our visitors and showing them what Guam is all about.
I always seem to mention this, but going to school in the States allowed me to find more of myself. I was able to better appreciate my roots and who I was. I began to miss the values and customs that I grew up with. Like any Chamorro that leaves Guam, I became obsessed with representing the island.
When I returned for the summer, I had completely forgotten that the Festival of Pacific Arts was being hosted on Guam. Unfortunately, the first day that FestPac began, I got sick and I didn't attend the festivities for a week. When I finally started feeling better, I went with my friend and I was amazed. Seeing all the different island nations expressing their love for their culture made me appreciate who I was even more.
Therefore, I came up with a few reasons why you should attend FestPac 2020 in Hawaii.
1. The Experience
I don’t have a lot of money to travel every four years to the hosting island. Having the event on Guam allowed so many people to discover what our fellow Pacific Islanders are like. I was happy to discover that we're not entirely different from our brothers and sisters in neighboring islands. It really shows that although we’re not on one huge land mass, we’re still connected.
There's also the chance to just feel everything. It really hits you on a spiritual level when you see the passion and joy that the islanders have in their roots. It's truly a sight to behold and something that I hope to experience again in 2020.
2. The Delegates
Not to be shallow, but damn, some of the islands have incredibly beautiful people. One island in particular, Rapa Nui (or Easter Island), was constantly being mentioned on social media for the men they had as dancers. Although I do admit that they were pretty nice to look at, I preferred the people from the Cook Islands. In all, I thought everyone was extremely beautiful, which made me feel like a taro.
3. The Dances
I'm sure that everyone really enjoyed the dancing. Seeing the differences and the similarities between our dances and theirs was interesting. It was overwhelming to hear the harmonies of New Zealand and the gracefulness of French Polynesia - Tahiti. And, as my cousin pointed out, nearly every island had a song about birds, so that's pretty darn exciting.
4. The Other Cultural Showcases
For the first time in forever, Guam was really exposed to something more than itself. Seeing all the weaving, carpentry, blacksmithing, even theater performances, was breathtaking. It's almost like waiting for mango to grow and watching it carefully and by the time you pick it, it's perfect. It's not too sour, not too sweet, but just in between the two.
Still, there are things I did not like and things you shouldn't do.
1. Don't Get Down With The Sickness
For a entire week I was sick and was unable to attend the activities. I regret it so much, because when I finally went I wanted to see more. However, FestPac was ending in a week and it was nearly impossible to see everything. Ultimately, I was left sad that I didn't get to watch all the performances and see all the demonstrations.
2. Do Not Complain
There were so many people complaining about some mishaps at the start of the event. They made claims that Guam was doing terrible at hosting, but I firmly believe we did freaking amazing. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, the mayors of our respective villages, and the people of Guam, it was a success. Nobody’s perfect, but we sure as hell did a great job this year. So, a round of applause to you, Guam. You did amazing and from what we all heard at the closing ceremonies, the other islands thought so too.
3. It's Going to Be Crowded
I hate big crowds and going to FestPac meant I’d have to brave those big crowds. Some people were so rude when finding seats, others would cut lines to get wares. Being around so many rude people at once is taxing, but you have to brave it if you want to be apart of something as spectacular as FestPac.
I probably won’t see it ever again, so if you have the chance, go!
Since FestPac happens every four years and assuming all 27 island nations will continue to participate, FestPac will not be hosted on Guam until 104 years from now. It’s unfortunate, because I am not living until I’m 124. Maybe they can make FestPac every two years to cut that time in half, because I do not have the money to travel to the host island every four years.
All in all, FestPac was the most delicious thing I have experienced in 2016 so far. It was great that Guam was exposed to the cultures of other people. It expands the borders of our little island and allows the people of Guam to see just how big the world is. Thank you to all the delegations for making FestPac 2016 a huge success. I can't wait to attend FestPac 2020 in Hawaii!